I have shared many messages with our community reiterating my commitment – and that of the University’s leadership team – to supporting a culture of respect, safety and inclusion on our campuses. It is important that we give voice to issues that matter, like sexual violence and harassment. It is even more important that we listen and act upon what we hear.
Last spring, discussions began around the drafting of new sexual violence and respectful work and learning environment policies. A number of avenues were made available to our students, alumni, staff and faculty to share input about these key policies and their impacts. Anonymous and confidential feedback systems were put in place last spring; more than 20 stakeholder engagement sessions were held over the summer and fall, and an optional survey was sent to all students. The feedback gathered has been invaluable and led to updates and improvements to the proposed policies, which are currently in draft stage. The goal is to present these policies to the University’s Board of Governors for consideration in June 2019.
More than influencing policy development, the thoughtful, personal, and often pointed feedback we received has helped to enrich our educational materials and opportunities. While there is much more to do, and certainly additional resources to come, I am pleased that today I can announce the launch of a sexual violence awareness online course on UM Learn, which covers many of the key themes highlighted during last year’s stakeholder engagement sessions. Containing foundational information on sexual violence, these five video-based modules are available for all members of our community and I encourage each of you to take the time to watch each one. They cover crucial topics, including consent, policies and procedures, common myths and available resources.
I recently completed the course and I ask all of my colleagues – both faculty and staff – as well as all members of the student community, to do the same. It is our collective responsibility to educate ourselves around sexual violence on campus.
I would like to thank all of you who took the time to engage in candid conversations, either online, or at a stakeholder session. The questions you raised, issues you identified and solutions you offered will continue to guide us as we move ever forward towards creating a culture of consent, respect, trust and inclusivity.
Dr. David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor
For more information, visit umanitoba.ca/sexual-violence
David T. Barnard, Ph.D.
President and Vice-Chancellor